How much is your job worth?

ready-for-work-by-tammy-mcintyre2Now that you’ve started the job search process and you have begun to screen jobs, research job salaries. The goal is to find job salaries for people with similar experience and skills in your industry.

If your job clearly falls within one of the 10 primary functional areas of an organization, then market need is present for that job. For example, there is nearly always a need for sales representatives, accountants, and human resource professionals.

For starters, answer the question, “What range would the company have to pay to find someone like me?” Put another way, “If I don’t take the job, what would the company have to offer to find someone as good as me?” Without having this kind of salary data, you won’t be able to substantiate your case for the salary you want.

Market value is not a whole number, but a range. It is a composite of three components: researched value, your individual value, and your future value.

Once you know the job title and possibly the job description, you’ll be able to hone in on your researched value or the present going or market rate. You can find generic job descriptions on the Internet. The Internet in general, along with your leg work, should give you enough data to get a fix on the competitive rate.

Check out the latest data on these sites to see whether the job is expected to grow and at what pace, remain stagnant, or decline in the coming years:

  • — collects ongoing salary data directly from visitors.
  • — collects salary data from companies and customizes it to location, size of company, etc.
  • — has articles about salary trends.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics — supplies surveys of corporate payroll data and employee questionnaires.

From these sites, you won’t get one simple numeric answer, but with a bit of effort, search and printouts, you can get a range for the pay-level comparison.

Your individual value accounts for your special training, assets, skills, competencies, etc., that are of value to your employer. Finally, take into account any long-term rewards like profit-sharing, performance bonuses, raises, stock options, etc., that are part of your benefits package to determine your future value.

Blending these three numbers gives you negotiation power. Instead of “Here’s what I’d like,” you can say, “Here’s the range of what others are paid, and why I should be paid at the top of the range.”

Advice for midcareer job seekers

Midcareer job seekers are presented with a different type of challenge. They may not quite fit into the standard categories represented by traditional job descriptions. By now, they have completed their formal education, accumulated significant work experience, and have had some measure of workplace success.

From my experience as a career changer and as a career coach, those in this stage of career development are most satisfied when they find work that allows them to leverage their past work with new skills that are emerging.

If you are a midcareer job seeker, it may be best for you to articulate a desired career and evaluate the market need for this role in the marketplace from a “both/and” approach. Instead of choosing something entirely different from your prior job or career, try to find a way to combine your previous experience with the untapped skill set in the new role and then propose this role to an organization that has a need for it. Many have found their dream job by using this job search approach.


Look for regular “Ready for Work” columns on finding, keeping and succeeding in meaningful work. Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to